REVIEW: Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

Directed by Panos Cosmatos, the story of Beyond the Black Rainbow is set in 1983 and revolves around a young girl being held captive in an elusive facility who's intent is to expound ‘enlightenment’.

Eight years prior to creating a bloody splash with Mandy, Panos Cosmatos made his directorial debut back in 2010 with this psychedelic psychological thriller. My interest in this film stemmed from my excitement for Mandy; I wanted to get a sense of Cosmatos as a storyteller.

When the film started out, I was digging the style. The 80s influence is apparent in its soundtrack and post-processed grain, but after five minutes my interest withered.

I have nothing but contempt for Black Rainbow. In what has got to be one of the most arduously pretentious pieces of cinema to be released in the last fifteen years, Beyond The Black Rainbow is one of the worst directorial debuts I’ve ever seen.

This movie features performances that are so comically directed. The dialogue delivery is chock a block full of pauses in each sentence and it absolutely exhausted me. The overall sense of pacing is excruciating. Because the characters feel so bemused by design, the movie is constantly drowning in its visual style.

I was never sure as to what I was supposed to be invested in, I legitimately found myself utterly lost after the first five minutes. Who are these characters? What do they represent? What is the social reality? What are the influences? Why is there a big creepy pale-faced baby creature walking about this facility?

I’m not expecting explicit answers or even just everything to be answered, but I’d like some kind of hint. That’s the problem with the storytelling, it’s insultingly clueless, it didn’t involve me. It feels like there’s a barrier between me and it.

This is where Cosmatos succeeded with Mandy. He created a world that knew what it was but it was also considerate enough to involve me with its transparently tacit details.

Black Rainbow barely has a skeleton materialised and instead dresses it all up with a grainy, edgy style that thinks it’s so creepy and intellectual. There’s nothing interesting about it.

By the 90-minute mark, I was becoming very impatient with it. The final 20 minutes (where it suddenly turns into a slasher film) are hilariously bad and features a death scene that’s so punitively anti-climactic.

This movie is nothing but unkempt artsy-fartsy manure. It’s capriciously pretentious, annoyingly slow, terribly acted and hasn’t any form of (good) abstract plotting to work with. My advice? Watch Mandy. Don’t give Black Rainbow any attention.

Written by Seán Mac G.

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